An Overview of Alchemy
The art of alchemy (from Ars Kemao in the Relican language) is concerned with the creation of substances, the transmutation of elements, and the quest for immortality. It is a process by which the magical essence inherent in all things is tapped to release energy, or to mix and transmute the base elements of substances, recombining them into new substances. Alchemy has become the cornerstone of the modern world, giving rise to such wondrous substances as whitepowder, ichor fuel, lifting gasses, extraordinary alloys, and miraculous medicines.
Physical alchemy is concerned with the purification, transmutation, fusion, and distillation of metals, minerals, elements, plants, and animals. By studying how elements, metals, and substances react to one another, some alchemists believe it is possible to create the Philosopher's Stone--a miraculous stone, crystal, or powder capable of acting as an ultimate catalyst for elemental purification. Such a stone would work wonders beyond comprehension, including transforming lead to gold, healing the sick, or granting immortality by purifying the body and elevating the soul into a higher, more ideal form. On a more spiritual level, the alchemist (or more often, the "alchemystic") seeks the purification and transfiguration of the mind, body, and soul. The alchemage, on the other hand, uses alchemy to foreword his own magical powers, to create dazzling potions and enchanted items, and to delve deep into the elusive mysteries of Creation.
Principles of AlchemyIn alchemy, the word principle carries two meanings. The first is a principle of nature; that is, a law which cannot be violated. There are many principles such as these, though many are simply restatements of other, more basic principles. The final goal of some alchemists is to discover the Principia Magnum, the Great Law, which governs all the laws of the universe.
The second meaning of principle resides in the term Principle Chemical (or principle element), which is a purified form of a discrete and measurably unique chemical substance. The Principle of Sulphur, for instance, is a pure quantity of sulphur. The Principle of Antimony is a pure quantity of antimony. Such pure chemicals are often called Prince (or even King or Queen). To further illustrate this idea it is necessary to understand that very few pure things are found in nature. Due to the chaos and natural evolution of all things, there is a great deal of mixing and marrying of chemicals, metals, and compounds. These can often be alchemically separated by various techniques (such as the sublimation of volcanic rock to distill the Prince of Sulphur). In this way a principle chemical (or element) may be formed. Principle chemicals cannot be separated into other substances.
Alchemical PhilosophyAll matter is made up of varying proportions of the elements in different ratios. Only gold has a harmonious balance of these elements; all other matter, being out of balance, is imperfect. To transmute matter from one form to another, the substance must be separated into its parts by pounding, breaking, grinding, boiling, and dissolving. By this process the principle elements can be extracted. By mixing, melting, distilling, and fusing these Princes within other Princes, matter can be transformed. If perfect balance is attained, the substances thus formed will be that of the purest "gold". Once discovered, such a process could be extended to perfecting any art, process, or form of matter, including the body and soul of mankind.
In alchemical philosophy, blood is the universal conveyor of life and is the water of the primordial sea from which all living things were created. Blood is nearest to gold in that it is nearly in balance among all elements. When the elements of blood finally become harmonious to the elemental base metals, immortality and eternal life may be achieved.
The essence of alchemical philosophy is deeply hidden in metaphor and allegory, the Philosopher's Stone being the most secretive of all such marvels.
History of AlchemyDuring the Age of Marada, alchemy was in its Golden Age. Marada had great flying machines, magical engines, and could even transcend the boundaries of the sky into the Void beyond. But the war between Marada and Golla ended in the destruction of both cultures, resulting in a dark age that lasted nearly 500 years. The myths and legends of the great alchemical miracles, magical machines, and remarkable transmutations of the Maradian alchemist drove men to delve deeper into alchemy. However, with nearly all knowledge from that age lost, nearly all met with astounding failure.
The Kingdom of Glaven, rebuilt by King Solomis in 325 of the Common Age (CA), lasted but a short time before falling to the barbarian hordes. During this time, however, there was a brief revival in the study of alchemy based on what little could be recovered from the ruins of Marada. Most later developments in alchemy were built upon the great discoveries made in Glaven.
In the 6th century, the Imperial Republic rose from the ashes of Glaven as the warring states of Celania gradually united under one banner. The Republic grew to dominate all of Celania and Mesoria, and eventually most of civilized world. With the rise of the Republic came a new golden age of alchemy. This was best illustrated by the fateful discovery of whitepowder by Altus Jorn. Jorn ciphered the formulae, and was later executed for not revealing his knowledge when ordered to do so by the Emperor. In 583 CA the Archidoxy broke the code, but initial experimentations lead only to disastrous explosions. By the end of the 6th century, whitepowder weapons had begun to find their place on the battlefield. Around the year 605 CA, the alchemage Taluous built the first electric dynamo as well as the first aetheric dynamo, and in 690 CA alchemists in Glaven invented the first simple steam engine.
Despite these amazing advancements, the Republic also ushered in a dark age for alchemy. Fraud was rampant and charlatans could be found on every street corner. With alchemy's dubious promise of wealth and immortal life, fraudulent alchemy was commonplace in the great cities of the Republic. Lords and barons would have in their employment countless alchemists, most of them fakes and quacks, and none of whom were able to fulfill their lofty promises. This nearly led to the complete disbandment of alchemy as a science. The decades just before the Great Tyranny were considered to be the darkest age for alchemy, when fraud was so rampant that to be accused of alchemical fraud had become a crime punishable by death. The execution of fraudulent alchemists was usually alchemical in nature: being dipped in a cauldron of acid, forced to drink liquid gold, or being laid in a bath of liquid lead mixed with yellow colorings.
The War of Tyranny changed all that, however, for it was by the power of alchemy that the War against the Triclops was finally won. In the years 842 to 843 CA, the Triclopes stormed across both Tarrona and Celaphania, bringing most of the world under their control. Soren's army in the southern subcontinent of Mesoria halted their invasion. Under Soren's guidance, new weapons and new war machines had been brought to bear, which turned the tide of battle. By 854 CA, the War was over and the world free. Though the War of Tyranny was not entirely won by the power of alchemy, Soren and other alchemists like him had demonstrated its awesome potential, again rekindling the flames that had nearly been extinguished.
During the Age of New Antaria, which lasted from the end of the Great Tyranny to the year 955 CA, unheralded advancements in science and alchemy were made. Soren the Magnificent (unquestionably the most powerful alchemist and astral-mage in the world) had shown himself to be immortal, but never revealed his secret of immortality--leading many to assume he had discovered the long-sought Philosopher's Stone. King Clovis, Champion of the War of Tyranny and founder of New Antaria, was himself seemingly immortal. They and the other great leaders and heroes of the War rebuilt civilization, and mankind entered into the Golden Age of Progress.
Today, alchemy is more important than ever. Alchemy is a necessary and vital part of civilization. Without alchemy, there would be no electricity, no whitepowder, and no great advances in metallurgy. Indeed, it was alchemy that built the world we have today, and alchemy that will forge the world of tomorrow.